It started with a sneeze on Monday.
By the end of the day, I had a runny nose and a cough. By Tuesday morning, I was heating up with a fever and full-on cold symptoms. Despite a short respite on Wednesday morning, when I mistakenly went to work for an hour and a half and then quickly returned home, I was quickly home sick on the couch in the middle of fever-induced dreams and insomnia-laced incoherence.
That is a bad recipe for a mind ready to spin like the last cycle in a washing machine.
In the last three years, I have done a lot of spiritual work. Some of that spiritual work has included being able to live in the moment and throw out the nasty thoughts that can make me my own worst enemy.
Yesterday afternoon, it was like all of that work flew right out the window. I was already sick and feeling a little sorry for myself, and then the spinning began. I began thinking about my relationship with a friend, and then fear—fear in an abstract way as it related to my relationships, my friends, my family, my job, my finances, my future, grief, and loss.
Negative feelings begat negative feelings.
Within an hour, and a few ill-chosen texts to a friend, I was in a negative spiral. Yes, not everything is happy or positive all the time, and it shouldn’t be. All of a sudden, though, it felt hard to remember the light. I am not talking about depression or a condition that might need therapy or even medication. I am talking about the quick cycle that we can let ourselves fall into, just by letting thoughts spiral into misery.
On a given day, we can be the prisoner to our own thoughts and feelings. If we can learn to realize that these are passing thoughts, and that if we are cognizant of that, we can clear our minds. Meditation can help us to do that. Despite what most think, meditation does not necessarily mean completely emptying the mind. It does mean, though, that we pause and pull ourselves into the present moment.
Often our misery, or dissatisfaction, or anger, or sadness has more to do with our thoughts and expectations, rather than the situation itself. If we can separate ourselves from our thoughts, and slowly count and breathe, we can bring ourselves into the present moment.
Stop. Put down the phone. Breathe. Think of all your feelings and thoughts as cartoon bubbles in your head.
Name your feelings. I feel frustrated. I feel scared. I feel unworthy. I feel unsure. I feel scared of losing this person’s love. I feel that I am not enough. I feel that everything I learned about my mind and meditation just disappeared into thin air. I am worried. I am not sure about what to do next. I feel hopeless. I feel sad. I feel overwhelmed.
Keep naming those feelings, those cartoon balloons, and release them, until everything has been named in that big indefinable knot. Take a breath. Count to 100. Bring yourself to the present moment.
All you need in that one moment is a breath.
You begin again. You are whole. You can heal. One step at a time. Steps forward, steps backward. It is all part of the journey.
Author: Kary Schumpert
Editor: Callie Rushton